Law & the Courts

NYPD Hit 25-Year High in Gun Busts in First Week of September

A NYPD police officer at the scene of a shooting in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 25, 2020 (Lloyd Mitchell/Reuters)

The NYPD made more gun arrests last week than during any week over the last 25 years, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday, a milestone for the department as the city weathers a spike in shootings and violent crime.

“We hit a 25-year high in gun arrests last week, the most gun arrests we’ve made in a week in 25 years,” New York City’s police head told radio station 1010 WINS.

The department made 160 gun arrests between August 31 and September 6, the highest number of any week in the last quarter-century, and more than twice the 72 gun arrests made during the same week last year.

Gun arrests had been rising over the last month, Shea said, with 436 busts over the 28 days that ended September 6, marking a roughly 36 percent increase from the 320 busts the department made over the same period last year.

After riots broke out following the police custody death of George Floyd in May, New York City’s murder rate shot up 59 percent in July compared to last year, and shootings spiked 177 percent. Meanwhile, the City Council agreed in July to cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget.

The uptick in gun arrests comes even after the NYPD’s plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit, which was responsible for getting guns off the streets, was eliminated in June. The unit’s about 600 undercover officers were set to be transferred to other assignments including detective work and policing neighborhoods. The police unit had been criticized as stoking distrust in law enforcement in minority communities.

The city’s top cop attributed the increase in gun busts to “intelligence, using ShotSpotter, using our field intelligence team, using video, following up on social media, good police work, a little bit of all of this” as well as “too many people carrying guns. And that’s the bad piece.”

“Cops are putting themselves on the line every day as they have been,” Shea told the radio station. “The problem is there’s too many guns out there and there’s not enough consequences and once we get our heads wrapped around that, I think we’ll be in a better place.”

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